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North Carolina Newspaper: Free Speech ‘Indispensable Ally’ of Tolerance

By on January 6, 2014

An eloquent editorial penned by the editors of North Carolina newspaper The Wilson Times takes the state’s public colleges and universities to task for failing to respect student free speech rights.

The editors note that FIRE recently named two North Carolina institutions—Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—to our annual list of the nation’s “Worst Colleges for Free Speech.” The editors point out that, unfortunately, these two schools aren’t outliers: Five North Carolina colleges earn “red light” rankings in FIRE’s Spotlight database for maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict protected expression on campus.

Calling on the state’s colleges and universities to do better, the Times succinctly makes the case for protecting freedom of expression on campus:

When students spout racist, sexist or otherwise offensive diatribes, the solution is more speech, not less. Through spirited and vigorous debate, noble ideas prevail over narrow-mindedness and bigotry. Free speech is not the enemy of tolerance; it is an indispensable ally.

College should be a place where students from diverse cultural, racial and religious backgrounds come to learn about each other, about themselves and about the world at large. It should be a place where the free and open exchange of ideas is welcomed as part of the educational process, not feared as an agent of controversy.

We’d like college administrators across North Carolina to take a second look at their policies on student expression. Our state belongs atop many national rankings, but FIRE’s annual campus censorship list shouldn’t be one of them.

We couldn’t agree more. Read the full editorial here.

Schools: Appalachian State University University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill